HIGHLAND — Three months ago, Amanda Goodman said yes to a marriage proposal from her now-fiancé, a Marion County sheriff's deputy.
Goodman, 28, of Indianapolis, said yes again on Wednesday to the second wedding dress she tried on at Elegance Wedding & Evening Wear in Highland.
"The dress is done," Goodman said of her final selection.
Goodman's ivory, beaded, Victorian-style gown with taffeta pleating was given to her free of charge by the bridal studio through a partnership with the Brides Across America giveaway program.
"It's absolutely awesome because the money we saved can go to our honeymoon which will include a road trip to California with my kids and then a cruise for my fiance and me," Goodman said.
Charlott Sitarski, owner of Elegance Wedding & Evening Wear, said her shop began taking part in Operation Wedding Gown in 2012.
Under the national nonprofit program, which was founded in 2008 by Heidi Janson, wedding gowns are given away as a special thank you to military men and women or first responders, Sitarski said.
"It's a great way to celebrate our military and those who serve our country and thank them for what they do," Sitarski.
The giveaway takes place twice a year — always around the Fourth of July, then in November, around Veterans Day, Sitarski said.
Goodman, who works as a litigation paralegal in the Marion County prosecutor's office, said she met her fiance, Andres Escalante, a year ago while both were working.
She found out about the giveway program online, found Elegance Wedding & Evening Wear listed, and set up an appointment at the Highland store.
"I subscribe to all the wedding websites. It (the Operation Wedding Gown program) just popped up. This (the Highland store) is the only one in Indiana that I found," Goodman said.
On the trip to Highland, Goodman brought along her daughter, Nevaeh Goodman, 10 and good friend, Elizabeth Coe, who will serve as her maid of honor.
Bride-to-be Shelby Hale, 24, of Scottsburg, Indiana, said she drove four hours to the Highland bridal gown store Tuesday morning and found the gown she'll wear at her wedding next September.
Hale's fiance is 1st Lt. Jacob Dorsey, who serves with the Wisconsin National Guard. Dorsey was deployed last Saturday to the Middle East.
"I'm so grateful for Elegance Wedding & Evening Wear and Brides Across America. It's a rough time for military and their spouses and this (dress giveaway) really made me feel special," Hale said.
Over the last 10 years, Brides Across America, which originated Operation Wedding Gown, has provided more than 20,000 wedding gowns and 22 weddings across the country. Dresses as part of the giveaway cost an average of $2,000, according to a news release from Brides Across America.
For more information on how to qualify, to locate a salon near you, or to register for an event go to www.bridesacrossamerica.com.